Proposal aims to improve Ferndale buildings with help of resident-led task force

Posted at 10:57 PM, Oct 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-17 23:22:49-04

FERNDALE, Mich. (WXYZ) — The city of Ferndale is putting residents at the helm of community improvement.

Over the past six months, people who work and live in Ferndale have been touring and assessing city buildings. The consensus is those buildings are in disrepair.

"These are bread and butter, and most of them are not sexy," said Donnie Johnson, a chair of the Resident-led Facilities Task Force on Facilities.

They're the bare-bones basics, according to Johnson.

He lives in Ferndale but works for the city of Detroit as the associate budget director.

"Much of the city's assets are close to the point of not being there," Johnson said.

Johnson and nine other people make up the Resident-led Task Force.

They put in six months of work, held 13 meetings and completed eight hours of facility tours.

"I was mortified at what our employees are dealing with at the fire department and at the police department," said Lynn Clark-Geiner, vice chair for the task force.

Under the task force's Phase 1 recommendations, remodeling and expanding Fire Station 1 would be the No. 1 priority.

Clark-Geiner says its current state is unsafe for the first responders.

"From fighting a fire, they are supposed to be able to decontaminate right there by the trucks and they can't do that in their current facility. They walk through the building and drag those contaminants through their living quarters," Clark-Geiner said.

Phase 1 recommendations would also include consolidating Fire Station 2 with the police department, divesting from the Gerry Kullick Community Center, expanding the Martin Road Park concession building and relocating the Southwest Storage Yard.

The report also pointed out that a retrofitted closet is the current space for the police department's female locker room.

In Phase 2 of recommendations, the city suggested relocating city hall to the first two floors of The dot parking garage. Ferndale's city manager says implementing all recommendations would be a $65 million investment over the span of 10 to 12 years.

Ultimately, voters would have approved a money-borrowing plan via a ballot proposal. The city's general fund alone could not cover the costs.

"Financing these solutions does require community choice. These are not free and this will have to be a dialogue between you the council and the residents of Ferndale," Johnson said.

Expanding this fire station would displace the Ferndale Historical Museum, which is located in this building. That did not sit well with some of the commissioners. The task force is hoping to find an alternate location.

"Once they work out the logistics of the city not owning it and they get that all in place, perhaps powers, it could be combined with one of the other facilities going forward," Clark-Geiner said.

The city council only adopted and accepted the recommendations a meeting Monday night.